Monday, April 16, 2012

Learning curve

The arch of the hoop house is a bit of a metaphor for the learning curve that goes along with learning to use them.  I've wanted one for quite a few years.  Reading blogs, articles and season extension books to get a sense for how to best put a hoop house to good use.  Then the excitement of actually having one throws all sense out the window.  Of course, a very warm March doesn't help. 
The hoop house that is planted.

The hoops were installed in early March.  We had a warm winter, followed by a warm March.  The warmth had caused me to plant things indoors earlier than I should.  As a result, there were plenty of things to go into the hoops when they were installed.  I reasoned that the warmth should continue and the hoops would protect the seedlings from harm.  As we were putting the plastic on, I noticed 2 holes about 1 inch in diameter.  Thinking to myself that they had to be patched, I promptly forgot all about them.  A week later we had night temps dip into the low 20's.

I covered the seedlings under the hoops and all was well.  It warmed up again, so the covers came off.  After a surprise 2 nights of 22 degrees, I expected total devastation.  The hoops did their job though.  The exception being in the area near the 2 holes. 
Kale seedling rebounding from near death

A few of the seedlings shriveled and died.  They are showing signs of life again, so they'll be left in the beds. 

The carrots I seeded with my seed tapes are finally coming up.  It doesn't seem there is too much time to be saved with planting them earlier.  They really do like the soil a bit warmer.  Maybe I'll do beets or radishes early next year. 

carrot seedlings

The tatsoi has been thriving under the hoops, as have the spinach and lettuce that were seeded.

Spinach, cabbage, tatsoi and lettuce.

So far, lessons learned.  1.  Make sure all holes have been sealed up.  2.  Have more patience when putting seedlings out in the hoops.  3.  Seeding carrots early is not a huge time saver, and the space could be better utilized.  4.  I love having the hoops and can't wait for the fall and winter to use them more thoroughly.


Daphne said...

I find that carrot seed comes up in about three weeks in the early spring. In summer it takes about one week. The warm soil really helps out a lot.

kitsapFG said...

It looks like the hoops are doing a good job for you. I love the ability to push the spring and fall seasons hard - it provides so much more yeild in the garden to make the effort to cover beds. Glad the plants that were knocked down are making a comeback for you.

daisy said...

Maybe I'll replant some carrots!

Love those hoops!
There's so much to learn, no?

The Mom said...

Daphne, it does do better in the warmth. I was just too anxious to start early! Must learn patience.

Laura, I'm really looking forward to using them more fully in the coming years. Those brassicas sure are hardy plants.

Daisy, replant! We love our homegrown carrots. I do love the hoops and the learning is fun.

Leigh said...

Great post. We have yet to try a hoop house. Maybe after our house is done (what a time hog that has been :) I'm finally harvesting my fall planted carrots. I should try some spring planted ones as an experiment. Mostly though, I find my spring garden poops out all too early because of our short springs.

The Mom said...

Leigh, the house is looking so good! My fall carrots generally do better as well. We go through so many carrots, that I'm looking for any way to get more out of the garden.

Clint Baker said...

I stopped in off the hop and can't wait to read more! I am following now. Please come visit and follow at:

The Mom said...

Thanks for visiting Clint.

6512 and growing said...

I just discovered hoop houses last season (we live in high elevation Colorado) and am loving them. Mostly because I can eat a salad in April (from greens planted last fall).